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Daniel Hauser Update and More

Daniel Hauser, the boy who is refusing chemotherapy, and his mother arrived home yesterday and will appear back in court today. Daniel has been allowed to remain with his family so far. Attorney Jennifer Keller, who is working with the family, tells the Associated Press that Colleen Hauser "will abide by what the court says," though she will continue to seek permission to treat Daniel's cancer with "non-toxic" alternative treatments.

Meanwhile, in the case of another parent who bucked traditional medicine, Leilani Neumann, of Wisconsin, was found guilty of second-degree reckless homicide in the death of her 11-year-old daughter Madeline Kara Neumann. Madeline suffered from untreated diabetes. Her mother prayed for her daughter rather than seeking medical care. Neumann could face a 25-year prison sentence, though University of Wisconsin professor Shawn Peters told the Wausau Daily Herald that judges usually do not give such long sentences in cases such as this one.

This week, the discussion of what should be done when parents rely on religion rather than medicine to heal sick children is the topic of the week in On Faith.

In the panel discussion, Susan Jacoby argues, "In life-threatening situations, parents should not be permitted to withhold established, non-experimental medical treatment from their children for any reason -- including but not limited to religious reasons. Religion has no special standing here. Any adult has the right to refuse any kind of medical treatment, but no parent should have the right to condemn a child to death because of religious beliefs -- or, for that matter, because the parent doesn't trust doctors or science."

Meanwhile, minister Willis E. Elliott argues: "Parents, accordingly, have the right to bring up their children in whatever religion they choose, without governmental violation of that freedom. In this perspective, the court's action in both cases is un-American. I so loathe and fear government interference with religion that I can stomach (though with painful reluctance) a few dead children."

As we saw last week, the issues surrounding these cases don't always have easy answers. I'm certain that this week's On Faith should make for interesting reading.

By Stacey Garfinkle |  May 26, 2009; 1:00 PM ET  | Category:  Health
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McGill Cancer Centre did 6 chemotherapy trials.
64 of 79 doctors would not consent to be in any trial containing Cisplatin – a common chemo drug.
58 of the 79 found that all the trials in question were unacceptable due to the ineffectiveness of chemotherapy & its unacceptably high degree of toxicity. Chemo only produces "temporary tumor shrinkage."

Chemotherapy usually doesn’t cure cancer or extend life, & it really does not improve the quality of life either.
It does do this -
# Pain
# Nausea and vomiting
# Diarrhea or constipation
# Anemia
# Malnutrition
# Hair loss
# Memory loss
# Depression of the immune system, hence (potentially lethal) infections and sepsis
# Weight loss or gain
# Hemorrhage
# Secondary neoplasms
# Cardiotoxicity
# Hepatotoxicity
# Nephrotoxicity
# Ototoxicity


Posted by: StemCellBlogger | May 26, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

@stemcell - You'd do yourself some good if you quoted some actual statistics. Like these:

The survival rate for Hodgkin lymphoma increased from 50 percent in 1962 to 90 percent today. [BTW, that's what Daniel has.]

The survival rate for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) from 7 percent in 1962 to 85 percent today.

Such claims as your are not merely wrong-headed, they're dangerous. Chemo is tough and it doesn't work every time.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 26, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I would choose proven medical treatments for my children, but my religious beliefs aren't in conflict with that. People who follow other religions should be free to follow the tenets of their religion, including make a different choice for their child.

Yes, I'm saying a parent has the right to refuse life-saving medical treatment for their child(ren) if that is a requirement of their religious beliefs. I think of it as directly-applied social Darwinism. The person who makes that decision based on what I view as misguided religious principles, is also choosing to eliminate their genes from the overall gene-pool. And that's good for our species, because the ones who make a choice for the benefit of the soul at the loss of the body, aren't intelligent enough, or are too easily brain-washed, (or there is some other mental flaw or defect inside this person's skull) and they shouldn't be adding their mental defectiveness to the overall species.

And we have too many humans on the planet already - if we have to reduce our numbers, lets get rid of the ones who are clearly incapable of solving their own problems - so we can start by accepting these volunteers for self-sacrifice.

Don't most religious people feel that their own religion is correct, and all others are wrong? So, let those we disagree with make their choice, and ultimately their God will let them know if they got it wrong or right.

Posted by: SueMc | May 26, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Dang SueMc! That's kind of harsh. On the whole, I agree with your position with regard to suicide - if you want to off yourself, that's more air, water, etc. for me and mine. But when it's your kid you are talking about "letting die" then I have a hard time seeing how that's not murder by ommission. If these idgits starved their kid to death because god, or whatever, told them that food was evil, that would be child abuse and murder. I have a really hard time seeing the difference where a (reletively) innocent life is at stake.

Posted by: VaLGaL | May 26, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Dang! I was expecting to get some *serious* flames for that post. Instead, VaLGaL gives me a thoughtful, and well-reasoned answer.

I see a difference between extraodinary medical treatment for a severe illness or disease, and starving a healthy individual. I'd have no problem with prosecution of the individual who starves an otherwise healthy child.

Posted by: SueMc | May 26, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

@suemc - You wrote: "And we have too many humans on the planet already - if we have to reduce our numbers, lets get rid of the ones who are clearly incapable of solving their own problems - so we can start by accepting these volunteers for self-sacrifice"

I find this disturbing on multiple levels. A young child doesn't have the capability to understand the sacrifice. I have 3 1/2 year old twins. They don't have the capacity to understand that running out into the road means they might *d*i*e*. Really, it's that simple. Your position is morally equivalent to someone who doesn't stop someone else's kids from running out into the street as it's the parents' choice. Cloaking it in evolution in action phrasing is morally repugnant.

As I noted earlier in this thread, treatment of Hodgkins lymphoma has a 90% survival rate (over 5 years). The child in question does not have the judgement to make this decision. Sorry, that's why we don't let 13 year olds drink or drive or vote. This child does not have the fully formed capacity to make this decision. That's why we have parents. And if they fail to do their duty, then that's why we have a society.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 26, 2009 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Sue, I choked when I read your 4:09 comment, not that the content was particularly unusual for this blog, but the fact that it came from you was difficult to believe. Then I remembered that there is a diabetic in your
family. OK, I get it.

My belief on this issue is that nobody should have to seek extraordinary means to treat a medical condition for themselves or a dependent. The devil is in the details - what qualifies as extraordinary means? I would say a major organ transplant such as heart, liver, lungs and brain surgery are in this category.

Cancer is a borderline case. Since it boils down to a numbers/percentage game, I think there are other factors to be considered. If the treatments will cause bankruptcy or other unusual hardships on the family, I think the option not to treat the cancer should be considered under the review by the legal system. I also think that the courts should consider the input from a 13 year old, as well as an 8 year old in making the decision to treat or not to treat, and whether the child can read or not doesn't have anything to do with it.

A little background on this. I had a HS friend who died of leukemia. The last few months of his life he lived in misery due to the chemo treatments in which toxins were injected into a surgically implanted tube that went strait to his heart. Not only did the sickness from the treatments seriously reduce his quality of life, but quite possibly it ended his life earlier than it needed to be. Who really knows? I've personally known others that gambled and lost with cancer.

Juvenile diabetes is a different case. The disease is treated with insulin, an over-the-counter medication readily available in every drug store in the United States. Left untreated, 100% certain death, with treatments - extended life. A no-brainer for sure. Government interference with religious practices has absolutely nothing to do in these cases. The fact is that Leilani Neumann intentially stood by and watched her daughter suffer a horrible slow, painful death, a crime of the most serious nature. I say throw the book at her!

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | May 27, 2009 6:35 AM | Report abuse

"... Then I remembered that there is a diabetic in your family. OK, I get it."

Nope. It's not about DH's diabetes. It's not about his informed medical decision to refuse statins for his (slightly) high cholesterol, either. And finally, it isn't about older son's autism.

For me, it's simply about religious freedom. (Reminder: I'm Pagan. Specifically Wiccan, and an elder in the NROOGD tradition.) I face religious discrimination regularly. Most recently I met a 30-y-o cousin for the first time, and his devout Catholicism *required* him to disrespect my religion and attempt to convert me, "save me from the fires of hell." I'll leave the details of the conversation to the imagination, but it wasn't much fun for any of us, since DH and I have been Pagans for longer than this young cousin has been alive and we've had decades of practice at Pagan apologetics.

If I want people to be respectful of my religion - and many Christians have a difficult time even tolerating it - then I must always strive for the high road, and be *at*least* as respectful of the decisions and actions of others based on their religious beliefs, no matter how wrong/stupid/ignorant/*evil* I think the decision or action is.

And, yes, allowing one's child to die when they could be saved, that seems terribly wrong, stupid, ignorant, and *evil* to me. But my religion seems that way to many other (perhaps poorly informed?) people.

When the Christian whose child died of a treatable but untreated illness, arrives before St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, that Christian will receive either: A) their confirmation that they made the decision they were supposed to and saved the child's immortal soul, or B) the condemnation that they weren't able to hear or accept from another human being while their child was alive.

My bet is on option B - but until I get to the Summerlands, I won't know how it turned out.

Posted by: SueMc | May 27, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

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